• Richest of the Rich position: 3
  • Birth/Death: c 1307-1376
  • Origin of wealth: Land
  • Wealth: £150,000
  • Net National Income: £2.8m
  • Net National Income Percent: 5.35%
  • In Today’s Money: £59.382 billion

Though his father was executed in 1326, it was not until 1330 that the Earl of Arundel succeeded to his title and later to the greater part of his estates. He proved to be one of Edward III’s most loyal generals, taking part in virtually every important campaign on the Continent. War proved to be a profitable operation for Arundel, as K.B. McFarlane noted in The Nobility of Later Medieval England
Edward III’s companions had reason enough to be content with his policy of aggression. It is impossible to say how much Arundel had multiplied his capital by skillful investment, but its original source was almost certainly the war. He was not the only baron to turn moneylender.

Arundel’s wealth was also increased substantially after 1353, when he succeeded, by right of his mother, to the earldom of Warenne (or Surrey), and by 1370, Edward III was more than £20,000 in his debt.

For all his warlike exploits on behalf of the king, Arundel died peacefully. A remarkable inventory of his assets was made including a huge hoard of gold, silver and bullion stored in the high tower at Arundel, worth around £30,000 at current values. A further £20,000 was stored in London for him by his agent, John Philpot, and another £10,000 on the family estate in the Welsh March. He was also owed some £4,500 in outstanding loans. But as the inventory did not run to his land holdings, his personal wardrobe, his jewels or the furnishing of his castles and homes, a wealth valuation of perhaps £150,000 is appropriate. That would have represented around 5.35% of the £2.8m national income figure at his death, which in today’s terms would be over £59.3bn.

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